On December 16, 2012, the 23 year old Jyoti Singh was returning home on a private transportation with a friend after watching Life of Pie in a theatre in Delhi, India. What took place while she and her friend were inside the bus is what nightmares are made of – Jyoti was brutally gang raped and beaten by up to six men. The attackers then impaled her with a rod, drawing out her internal organs and then discarded both Jyoti and her friend onto the street.

Even after the horrid nature of sexual and physical violence Jyoti had endured – she bravely fought for her life in the hospital before succumbing to her injuries on December 29, 2012. It enrages and suffocates me to even dare to imagine the terror Jyoti had faced. Words cannot convey the sadness and outrage I have felt since the day I learned about her attack.

But now there is a controversy surrounding a documentary called India’s Daughter released by BBC that aims to expose the sinister reality of sexual violence and rape culture in India. Some Indians are furious that the name of the infamous “Delhi gang rape” victim was exposed by BBC even though Jyoti’s father had long released his daughter’s name in early 2013 to empower other survivors of sexual violence around the world – he was not ashamed of his daughter’s name. However, there’s a patriarchal element in the country that continues to shame the name “Jyoti Singh” due to the vulgar belief that when a daughter is raped, the family’s “social status” becomes spoiled – and such is the nauseating justification being echoed righteously for supporting censorship of the documentary.

Jyoti suffered one of the worst rapes ever recorded in the 21st century.

Jyoti Singh is not “India’s” daughter – she is far from being the child of a nation that outrages over the slaughter of cows for consumption than of the rape and murder of women and girls. India has long lost the right to call her its daughter. Jyoti Singh is the daughter of justice – she is the face of those countless women and girls whose faces and names you’ll never hear nor see under the slavery of human trafficking and religious and cultural tyranny – Jyoti Singh is a young woman whose life and death are both a testament to the appalling facts of sexism and misogyny. So, remember her name well, India and the rest of the world.

People keep wondering why feminism is so important as if they seem to be experiencing a disconnection from the world around them. Violence against women and girls (VAWG) continues to be the leading form of abuse in society and that is why it must be appropriately called “Gender Apartheid”. VAWG isn’t just “violence” that any person can be subjected to—the motivation behind it is so vile that it stands out in a single pattern of hate-crime called Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

The discussion surrounding VAWG/GBV is often suppressed by society and neglected by the judicial system to the point where justice for victims is terrifyingly limited. People stare at this prevalent crime like it’s some kind of code to decipher. I was motivated to try and explain this on my own article on VAWG and it was no surprise that the responses I’ve received since then consisted of Male Rights Activists (MRA) who created social media accounts just to harass and threaten me among others who tell me how males experience “far more violence than woman” by referencing male on male violence while conveniently not registering the emphasis on GBV.

On a January 2015 report released by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) – the scale of VAWG in Papua New Guinea explained what it’s like to be a female in that region. It left me speechless due to my inability to help these women and girls who were facing not just sexual and domestic violence, but also witch hunting — yes, you’ve read that correctly — women and girls are being hacked to death for “sorcery” in the 21st century.

The Guardian also released its record of VAWG that would send chills down the spine of those still able to grasp what GBV really is. It should be common knowledge in 2015 that VAWG is affecting women and girls everywhere – it isn’t limited to just one country, race, religion or culture. When we do see the world spare some compassion for victims of GBV, it’s countered by the opposition who pander to the irrationality of religion, rape-culture, slut-shaming and male-entitlement as if misogynistic and sexist justifications are a valid defense to commit violence upon another human being.

HRW released yet another report on mass sexual violence against over 200 women and girls in Darfur, Sudan. It was an organized crime committed by the Sudanese army that is receiving all sorts of outrage and yet nothing changes. “Outrage” isn’t enough to end GBV. We need the implementation of meaningful actions to counter the terrorism most specific to the female gender. The Sudanese government has banned any third party investigation into the mass rapes as the Sri Lankan government had done when minority Tamils were brutally raped and murdered before and after the end of their civil war in May 2009.

What’s worse than combating sexual violence that is motivated by sheer criminality; combating sexual violence endorsed by theocratic-misogyny. Nothing is more sinister than Sharia – where a woman or girl filing a complaint of sexual violence will have her sentenced to be flogged and imprisoned – as the story of the 19 year old gang-rape victim in Saudi Arabia. While the 7 men who raped her received minimal sentencing – the victim herself was “guilty” of “indecency” for driving a car without a male guardian therefore it was declared the “fault” was with her and so she was given the heavier punishment of an initial 90 lashes but when her lawyer appealed the sentencing, it was altered to 200 lashes and imprisonment. The young woman’s lawyer, Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem, now also faces a disciplinary hearing and is banned from representing the victim and his license to practice law has been revoked – all because he did his duty to his client by appealing the unjust sentence and informed the media to plead for help. In essence, if you’re a victim of sexual violence in Islamic nations – don’t report it, otherwise you will be the one punished. Such savagery towards the female population is a popular trend endorsed in both their religion and culture – you can verify these details by simply reading their religious scriptures – which is where Sharia is derived from.

Those who refuse to accept the existence of patriarchal tyranny are the ones who make bigoted arguments such as “not all men!” as if the message regarding VAWG was ever concerted to the demonization of the entire male community — instead, it’s factually expressive of women and girls generally facing sexual, physical, emotional and financial abuse at the hands of their intimate male partner. Women and girls are more susceptible to injury by VAWG than by cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.  

People often argue that sexism and misogyny [that breeds VAWG] is just “traditional” and “religious” as if abusing women and girls for a long period of time is ground to romanticize it. If the roles were changed and women can abuse men in the name of tradition—we will have abortion clinics and shelters for men in every block of the street by now. Except men can’t get pregnant nor is there a culture that shames male existence as inferior, so all the burden of abuse and evidence is put on the female and she must sit through trials that give her only humiliation with no justice at the end of the day.

The victims are conflicted between reporting their abuse and exposing their trauma which will draw further exploitation of them by the abuser(s) or remain silent and “just deal with it” on their own. If they do file a complaint to the police – they are then trapped inside a system of bureaucracy as courts that are supposed to uphold justice place them in a blind spot and regurgitate the same old lecture about their rights being violated behind closed doors mean nothing due to a lack of physical evidence. And then there’s the ‘restraining order’ – where police will not charge the abuser for stalking the victims because it’s “difficult” to prove whether the abuser “intentionally” bumped into their victim on the same street multiple times as both parties live in the same city – all the while placing a ban on the victims from moving to another city/state or province with their children due to family court dilemmas – and this is how police inaction greatly contributes to VAWG.

We can see VAWG being celebrated in theocracy, for example—the story of the “Virgin Mary”. The people were so primitive; they called the abhorrent crime committed upon a little girl as a gift from god and began worshipping the criminal. And then they bound every single woman and girl to the fallacious standard of the “Virgin Mary” by imposing modesty on them and symbolizing god with male dominance.

Impregnation by rape is a trauma that victims rarely recover from. First the victim is raped and then she becomes pregnant and struggles with the thought of whether she should abort the child because it’s a rapist’s child or choose to regard that life as half hers and keep the pregnancy and live with the reminder of her trauma that comes in a flesh form of her own child all the while—her rapist walks around smiling and living his life, free to rape and create more victims because he can always say it was consensual and his claims will always trump the victim(s)’ as displayed in a great majority of sexual assault cases that result in acquittals.

President Obama’s Grammy speech was powerful – and straight to the point – it is on us to end VAWG – there is no excuse. We have fought for human rights for people because of their colour, race and nationality and yet the violence and discrimination women and girls face across the world all because of something as inherent as gender continues to be endorsed and condoned by religion, culture and society as a whole. How long must your mothers, sisters, wives and daughters beg to be acknowledged as equal? Is there no shred of decency as you degrade and abuse a human being because of her gender? Just as racism, gender-based abuse must end sooner than later.

A survivor of human trafficking and domestic violence, Brooke Axtell, delivered a powerful testimony – her words were warm and liberating. Nobody could have explained the true nature of love and respect better than Axtell as she said “Authentic love does not devalue another human being.” Axtell gave survivors hope and strength amidst the horrifying memories of violation and abuse – and for that, she must be applauded over and over again.

When will the bodies piling up on the graves of gender-based violence be sufficient evidence that VAWG is an epidemic – what will convince this hateful world to march for women and girls as they march for every other human rights cause?

Everyone shudders at the mention of the “Delhi gang rape” and are sympathetic to the plight of women and girls but our rights apparently do not have precedence over the convenience of patriarchy so we are told to embrace silence and “honour” and keep quiet and submit. I’m sorry to be the one to say that your outrage, sympathy and trembling are lazy condemnations and does not suffice the efforts made to end VAWG – as long as tangible outcomes are prevented or are nonexistent – the laziness will continue to claim lives of your daughters, mothers and sisters, and above all else, the life of a woman or girl who has the right to live.   

Society rebuffs the idea that women and girls’ rights are negotiable – when it’s not. No ideology and traditional preference outweigh the fundamental human rights of any human being, regardless of their age, sex, gender and sexual orientation and it is high-time the world accepts this fact. While repelling people who worship delusions demand their vile ideology and tradition be saved from free speech – activists tirelessly combat human rights abuses perpetrated by the very group of deluded egomaniacs wanting to censor liberty.

Our bodies, our mind, our soul – they will not be trampled on in the name of anything, so get your religious scriptures and prescription of modesty and male entitlement out of our bodies and out of our lives. Instead of fighting to have sexual, physical, emotional and financial abuse an ongoing ordeal under the illusion of religious and cultural rights – fight to make equality the new reality for everyone – or get the bloody hell out of the way of those trying.

Sexual violence isn’t just a physical violation of the reproductive organ of women and girls – it is an attack on their humanity – their existence reduced to that of an object – the totality of the dehumanizing terror foisted upon their body and mind cannot be described by words, but only understood through the experience – an experience that shadows your every thought and movement for the rest of your natural life.

The branding of women and girls as the objects of family honour and modesty encourages their future to become atrociously fated to physical, emotional and sexual slavery – and if you cannot fathom such a life for yourself or your loved ones due to its volume of criminality – then why are you silent about those that do face such a reality? Gender-based violence has hijacked the liberty of women and children under the guise of religion and culture which you vehemently defend with cognitive dissonance – so don’t be too shocked when humanists cannot respect your bigotry.